In a world where connecting is as simple as the click of a button, business leaders are finding that disconnected processes compromise productivity and agility. In fact, Accenture’s 2020 Business Agility Review found that “organizational silos are now the 3rd highest top of mind impediment to business agility, which is up from 8th in 2019.”
Connecting disparate systems would typically require costly additional infrastructure, but with a well-implemented case management solution, organizations can use existing systems with a service-oriented structure.
What is case management?
Case management is a holistic and responsive approach to automating work. The software that supports case management manages work across applications and people to create an ecosystem of data on each case. Since a large amount of work cannot be automated, case management also supports ad hoc work by tracking progress, ensuring consistency, and providing insight.
The foundation of case management: the case
The case management approach to automation uses a “case” as a unit of work that delivers a meaningful business outcome. For example: a customer request, an insurance claim, or a patient record.
The case is like an electronic folder that contains all the tasks, documents, and information required to achieve the desired outcome. The case also has the intelligence to collect necessary information, drive processes, manage escalations, detect changes, and make decisions.
Parent and child cases
There may also be cases within cases, like nesting dolls. The containing case is known as the parent case and the contained case is the child case. For example, an insurance company may organize their customers into cases and each customer would have their claims inside their customer file. The customer file would be the parent case and the insurance claim would be the child.
Parent-child relationships are important because they make parallel work easy. A parent case may split off into multiple child cases. These child cases can be processed in parallel, using the parent case to manage the relationships between the child cases.
How case management works
Case management uses cases to organize all the necessary information and processes for a particular piece of work. Case managers define stages, complete tasks, and create processes to automate work. Often, they can use graphical process models to define steps and decisions to keep the automated process concise and manageable. (For example, you can see the processes, stages, and tasks in the image that accompanies this article).
Unlike traditional business process management solutions, in case management, the case and process can exist independently from each other. This separation is part of what makes case management so powerful because each case can be managed as a holistic entity. This allows for more granular control of access within the case, its processes, and the information it contains.
To implement case management, first, assemble your team
The first step to implement case management solutions is to assemble a capable team. This team should understand how the business operates, have skills in case management technology, and have experience in change management. A well-rounded team requires experts in business, IT, and governance.
Many companies organize their initial team in informal communities to build infrastructure and share ideas. Once the use of case management grows, you will need to create a formal center of excellence (COE) to ensure that the necessary resources are available for large-scale use.
Another important factor in creating a case management solutions team is transparency. In order to achieve a harmonious environment, everyone should be clear on their position and responsibilities.
Next, define how case management should orchestrate the work
Once the team is established, the next step is to orchestrate work. This involves measures such as defining case types and stages, marking milestones, and establishing service level agreements. It is also necessary to plan for alternative stages to handle exceptions, cancellations, and any other surprises that may pop up.
Two often overlooked steps in designing a process management solution are planning for resolution and reuse. Often, cases are left in the resolution stage indefinitely once they are completed. This is a loss of vital information that can be used to reflect on the process, improve for the future, and reuse as a template for later. Reuse is a great opportunity to maximize efficiency. Reusing elements of a case improves time to market and maintains greater consistency.
Examples of how case management increases productivity and agility while improving the customer experience
Case management helps organizations across a range of industries streamline work from end-to-end and deliver flawless experiences for employees and customers. For example, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms uses a unified case management system for processing criminal investigations and regulatory inspections. Employees can access data across the entire system and enter and compile data whether they are in the office or field.
Vodafone Germany is successfully using case management to improve the customer experience by managing digital order capture and technical order fulfillment as well as business process automation. For a company dedicated to processing complex customer orders, case management is an important part of getting the perfect order every time.
By improving how work gets done, you can drive better business and customer outcomes.
With the workplace and work quickly becoming more digitized and distributed, case management enables consistency within workflows and allows you to adapt quickly to unpredictable changes. The result: greater accuracy, efficiency, and transparency of business operations, and a better experience for each and every customer.